Ukraine's authorities know who was behind the attempt to poison the president Viktor Yushchenko and have traced the substance used in the plot to a laboratory for banned chemical weapons, it emerged yesterday.

A number of people suspected of involvement in the assassination attempt last September are on the run, said Yushchenko in the interview to "Telegraph," adding that he was "certain that everybody will be caught" eventually.

The disclosure that the poison was made in Ukraine went some way to dispel suspicions that Russia was involved in the plot to get rid of Yushchenko when he was leader of the country's opposition last autumn.

However, Petro Poroshenko, the head of National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine, refused to rule out the possibility. He said the attempt to kill the president, who fell ill after a dinner with Ukrainian security chiefs, involved "specialists belonging to an existing or former secret service".

Yushchenko said a "lot of new information" had recently come to light that would lead to the arrest of the culprits.

Yushchenko said the remains of the poison were discovered in a Ukrainian laboratory where they were created "in apparent violation of international laws" banning the development of chemical weapons.

In fact the assassination attempt only steeled Yushchenko's determination to defy the pro-Moscow regime of Leonid Kuchma - and encouraged the "Orange Revolution" on the streets of Kiev when there was an attempt to fix last winter's elections.

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